April to May

For pure, unbridled joy nothing beats the transition from April to May, for me. Deciduous trees are covered with tiny pinpricks of intense yellow-green, washing the landscape with pointillist light and color. Birds are vocal, the skies are changeable, and everything is new.

 

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This article arrived in my inbox while I was putting this post together. It’s great news about chocolate! The next time I feel a need to boost my eyesight while processing photos, I’ll grab a few squares.

The photos (with some notes on processing and on the plants):

  1. There are many willow species where I live. I think these are Pacific willows (Salix lucida) with big, bright yellow catkins, thriving in the wetlands at Juanita Bay Park east of Seattle. You can see a few of last year’s cattails in the foreground. The willow trees are way ahead of the cattails, which were just beginning to push their leaves up out of the ground when the photo was made, April 30th.
  2. This gorgeous old Weeping willow is a subject I return to again and again – you’ve seen it here before. The tree was probably planted here decades ago, when the area was a golf course. Now the venerable tree blends into wetlands allowed to go wild and is covered with native Licorice ferns, lichens and moss. I processed the photo to emphasize the mystical, romantic quality of the tree in its present setting.
  3. The ravine behind my apartment rejoices in Spring. Bigleaf maples are hung with chunky, dangling yellow flower clusters, and evergreens provide a cool blue-green backdrop for the maples’ intense celebration of color. The middle tree is an older Douglas fir with branches high up on its straight, solid trunk.
  4. A small and attractive native tree, this Red elderberry (Sambucus racemosa) grows near the Weeping willow in photo #2, which almost forms a curtain around it. The Red elderberry sports graceful cream-colored flower clusters that become brilliant red berries in Fall, making the tree pop out along roadsides. In this photo the willow branches are all around the elderberry, but I focused the lens only on the elderberry, using a wide, f2.5 aperture.
  5. This time I focused on the nearest willow branches and let the elderberry go out of focus, using the same aperture. Using Lightroom’s radial filter, I reduced the contrast and clarity of the elderberry branch a bit more.
  6. I’m not sure what species this is – possibly a Dryopteris fern, growing at Bellevue Botanical Garden. The interweaving of the two fronds as they grow intrigued me. Ferns are excellent photography subjects and lend themselves perfectly to black and white; remove distracting color and the repeating patterns and uniform structure of the plant become more obvious.
  7. How much longer before these two turtles slip back into the water? The sun is gone! They are Red-eared sliders, native to the US south, not the Pacific northwest. They’ve been popular pets for decades – I remember having them as a child – and sometimes, people release their pets into the wild and they reproduce.ย  There is a similar native turtle, the Western painted turtle. The other Washington state turtle, the Western pond turtle, is almost extirpated here, thanks to habitat loss and the ingestion of eggs and hatchlings by bullfrogs, which (surprise!) humans also introduced.
  8. Another human introduction, but not an invasive one, is the beautiful Magnolia tree. This one may have been planted at Juanita Bay Park when it was a golf course.
  9. Pacific bleeding-heart (Dicentra formosa) is already forming seed pods by the end of April; the blooms are gone by mid May in lowland locations. Pacific bleeding heart is a native understory flower of woodlands, and a beauty it is, with abundant, fern-like foliage and pale pink flowers set on gracefully arcing stems. When the pea-like pods release the seeds, ants carry them home to eat a nutritious little appendage on the seed, leaving the rest…and Bleeding hearts are spread around. This photo was taken at a local park where the delicate plants thrive along a trail frequented by people and dogs. Somehow it all works out.
  10. The stunningly beautiful little Jeffrey’s shooting star (Dodecatheon jeffreyi) is another native flower. This individual however, was planted – at Bellevue Botanical Garden. I remember finding a group of Shooting stars along a wet, rocky trail in the mountains – what a thrill! I saw them again last year on Mt. Rainer on June 30th – a full two months later then they bloom down here. Altitude changes everything.
  11. Talk about tiny! The Piggyback plant’s flowers (Tolmiea menziesii) require patience to see well. The plant is named for the odd way its leaves sprout stems and new leaves. The flowers are tiny, finely detailed, subtly colored gems perched along the stem inches from the ground. I used a macro lens and luck for this photo, and I cropped it. The flowers grow at O.O. Denny Park in a busy, suburban town. Photographed on April 29th.
  12. Peer under a Vine maple tree’s leaves in spring, and you’ll find clusters of small, deep red and cream-colored flowers.
  13. At Juanita Bay Park, a nice marriage of native and non-native flowers: a decidedly hybrid Rhododendron grows amidst the delicate foliage of the native Pacific bleeding heart, whose flower is pictured above (#9).
  14. Looking up at O.O. Denny Park, I saw a maze of Bigleaf maple and Red alder branches with fresh leaves spread out to gather the sun.
  15. The leaves of Maidenhair fern make a frothy ground cover and are an attractive foil for larger, sturdier flowers that grow up through the foliage, at Bellevue Botanical Garden. I used a solarization effect in Color efex, sepia toner in Silver efex, and careful vignetting in Lightroom for this photo.
  16. The Star-flowered Solomon’s seal (Maianthemum stellatum, formerly Smilacina stellata) is another good subject for black and white photography, with its formally arranged, elegantly shaped leaves and clean white star-shaped flowers. This wildflower is native to much of North America; it’s leaves often interweave like those seen here, creating a dense, elegant carpet of deep green under the trees.
  17. A plum tree, perhaps. I don’t know – I didn’t check when I photographed this pretty blossoming tree at Bellevue Botanical Garden, on April 30th.
  18. Japanese maples (Acer palmatum) are beautiful all year long, not least when their foliage is brand new. This was taken looking up and through the foliage, from under the tree. After shooting with a wide aperture, I made a tiny tweak to the tone curve, a few subtle color adjustments, and a little cropping and sharpening.
  19. A close-up of the same tree’s delicate, pendulous flower.
  20. I love the tightly coiled, intense energy of fern fiddleheads. This is the well-known Pacific northwest native, Sword fern (Polystichum munitum). It is evergreen, hardy and tough, growing in all sorts of difficult conditions – almost the antithesis of what one thinks of when one envisions a fern. But nature is full of surprises. And spring has many faces. I touched on just a few here and chose to use a variety of processing styles for the photos. After the dreary uniformity of our Pacific northwest winter, Spring’s multiplicity of form and color is a tonic I’m happy to drink.

 


70 comments

  1. This album is a great celebration of spring, tonic is a perfect word for it! Appreciate the technical description for #15, the solarization effect, etc., itโ€™s a very cool shot! And #18 is very elegant-looking, the Japanese maple leaves are like calligraphy. And the last photo does convey a lot of elastic energy, it could almost be the arm of a sea creature uncoiling, with the spore dots as the suction cups. Happy spring!

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    • Thank you Robert. I could have gone many ways with #15 and hardly ever use the solarization filter, but sometimes it’s just right. As for #18, in situations like that I look around and take a lot of photos from different angles; usually one or two turn out well. I see what you mean – a green octopus! Scary! ๐Ÿ™‚ Happy spring to you too!

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  2. #1 could be Ohio, but oh, #2 could not! The ferns are the perfect accent to the willow. I like all the lines in #4 and the way the ones in the background have little color. I like how the sizes of the ripples and the sizes of the water-lily leaves are about the same in #7. Animals probably wouldnโ€™t like it if they knew how often we think they are โ€œcute,โ€ but Iโ€™m sorry, turtles, to me you just areโ€”especially your back feet. Oh, that color in #10โ€”and the perfect sharpness and bokeh. #11 manages such an abstract look; very cool composition. Love the monotone and contrast in #15! They move the maidenhair fern way out of the ordinary. All your processing was worth it. All-in-all, another wonderful collection, Lynn.

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    • The complexity of scenes like #2 threw me at first but in the last couple of years I’ve begun to get a handle on it. Confession: some desaturation in the background for #4. I didn’t notice what you noticed about #7, thanks! Joe & I were grinning about those back feet, like a dog on a hot day. This spot has turtles all summer, always fun to watch. Maidenhair fern is huge favorite so I enjoy finding different ways to portray it. Thank you Linda!

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  3. We are just starting to see the first signs of spring here in Webster (Where life is worth living) and I agree, it’s an exciting time of year. I particularly like #6 and #15. The processing on #15 is especially interesting since I’ve neglected to use any of these fine plug-ins lately. I’ll have to re-discover them again.

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    • I’m glad you like the monochromatic ferns, Ken. I was happy with them. Like I said in anther comment, I don’t often use the solarization effect but I’m glad I experimented. The number of things one can do in those programs is absolutely dizzying. I’m sure you make excellent use of them when you do use them. Thanks for being here! Please, don’t let that precious spring morph into summer too fast!

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  4. Very enjoyable set, even without some chocolate. But seriously, does anyone really need an excuse to partake ๐Ÿ™‚
    Numbers 2, 6, 14-16, and 20 are my favorites. (More lottery picks.)

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  5. And we’re happy to drink it with you! Hard to pick a favorite in this series. I’m getting to watch several piggyback plants developing and blooming at the end of the house. I’ve had to restrain Eric from cutting them.Apparently he’s not impressed by the tiny flowers. My favorite is the rhododendron about to bloom. The contrast of the darker, waxy rhodie leaves with the more delicate, lacy (bleeding heart?) leaves is exquisite.

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    • Has he looked closely? I mean, they’re amazing! Maybe he could move the plants up near the little spring. They can make a nice ground cover later, flowers or no flowers. Yes, those are Bleeding hear leaves around the rhodie, and the contrast is exactly what drew me in. There’s just so much to see lately, isn’t there? ๐Ÿ™‚

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      • Maybe I’ll have to show him your image in order to appreciate the piggyback. The piggyback is one of the easiest plants to propagate (also often used as a house plant). My plan is to take some cuttings and plant them in different spots around the yard. This place is such a jungle it’ll take some earnest effort to tame it a bit… though not TOO much! Way too much to see indeed. Good thing we’re capturing some of it to look back on come the grayer days of winter!

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    • De rien….my high school French was long ago, and the “De rien” phrase doesn’t seem to fit, because it wasn’t nothing. ๐Ÿ˜‰ So I will just say “Merci” back at you! Thanks for being here!

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  6. Love your allusion to pointillism – yea, bring it on! 2 has wonderful composition and colour – esp those acid yellow-greens! 6 is very striking. 9 is like a being’s head coming towards us, checking us out – long nose, small cream eyes, and antennae/whiskers. 15, love it, and WOW! what processing!!! And 17 is wonderfully subdued and soft. Wonderful stuff, my friend. A ๐Ÿ™‚

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    • I notice the pointilist effect the most when driving, along the sides of roads….re #9, I read somewhere that the Bleeding heart’s pods are rather “rude” looking. ๐Ÿ™‚ Your take is wonderful. People like you have encouraged me to keep at it with Silver efex, and experimenting in general, so pat yourself on the back, Adrian. Thank you.

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  7. Beautiful photographs of spring, Lynn, especially the first one.
    Somehow to me, it just shouts, “I’ve finally arrived!!!”
    Thank you for sharing, and have a wonderful week ahead.

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  8. I totally love Spring….the antidote for Seasonal Affective Disorder, which I know I have. Now if we could just freeze Spring…..or at least have it off work. I love all of them but am totally drawn to your black and whites. Gorgeous patterns.

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    • Yes, it’s a good antidote, freezing spring is a pretty funny idea when you think of it! Let’s start it about 6 weeks earlier, that way we’d have enough of the quiet time in between to appreciate spring, and not so much that we fall into despair. I can speak for having it off from work, having retired last year, and I wish I could say that it helps the winter blues, but, nope! Still, there’s no doubt that it’s a huge boon to be able to get out whenever I want to now, and not feel frustrated by work on gorgeous days. May your weekends be clear, or clear enough! (And I’m glad you enjoy the monochromes).

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  9. All pictures are so beautiful! You show us how wonderful and special springtime is. I love the tiny tender flowerpictures! Number 16 is almost my favourite. Although I am a fan of colours, I like the structure and composition very much. 4 and 5 are so poetic again! I love the time of the willows, too. The first trees that bring us some colours ๐Ÿ™‚ And there are several kind of willows in your area? – About the turtles: I just red in another blog of an american turtle in a lake here which took over a nest of geese with their eggs as a place for sunbathing! The geese weren’t able to act and banish it, so finally the eggs were lost. Yes, people release animals into nature not thinking about the consequences….the geese just seemed to be unable to defend their nest against this unknown animal. Strange but it happened like that!

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    • Sometimes I go for structure, sometimes for poetry, and I’m pleased that you enjoy both. Yes, there are quite a few willows here. That goose and turtle story is wild! That must have been interesting to see. You never know what’s next in nature, right?

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      • And I love both! I know only two sorts of willows so I was astonished to read, that there are more in your area. – Thats right with nature. You never know ๐Ÿ™‚ It was so strange this behaviour!

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  10. Somehow I can’t resist taking yet another picture of [name flower here] this time of year, despite having many a similar shot stashed away. I particularly like the B/W and macro shots in this set.

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    • Yes, me too – I am trying to be a little more aware of the large number of photos I have of certain things, but…. Glad you like the black and whites, and the macros, some of my favorite things to work on. Thanks!

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  11. stunning compositions I love the patterns and nature…and the macro…and the green…we too are getting some green that new neon green…and I must say your sharp eye of all your images makes me wonder…do you enjoy dark chocolate ? ๐Ÿค“โ˜บ๏ธ๐Ÿ’ซ smiles from sunny etown ~ hedy ๐Ÿ™ƒ

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    • Ha ha, yes Hedy, I do love dark chocolate, and am happy for more excuses to indulge. I love that new neon green, too, and it’s already gone over here – the trees are full out, like summer. But maybe I’ll go UP and back in time a little….a trip to the mountains is in order!

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    • It makes sense you would like that – they are there every day it’s sunny, and many other days, too, and they’re so much fun to watch. The other day a Great Blue heron stood on a log shared with turtles who were constantly scrambling to stay on, often unsuccessfully, every time the heron shifted its weight – so fun to watch!

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    • Well, I have to admit, it’s been pretty good here for spring weather – there’s been enough rain but not too much, and we’ve had a mix of warm and cool days. At least that’s my subjective impression! ๐Ÿ˜‰ Thanks Hien!

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